J Street-backed GOP incumbent survives primary in N.C.

WASHINGTON (JTA) — An incumbent Republican North Carolina congressman backed by J Street defeated a primary challenger who had been backed by pro-Israel conservatives.

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) beat back a challenge by Taylor Griffin, a former George W. Bush administration official, in the primary Tuesday.

J Street, a liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, backed Jones in part because he opposes new sanctions on Iran while nuclear talks are underway, as J Street does.

Jones is one of only a handful of Republicans who have accepted J Street’s endorsement since it established a political action committee in 2008.

Jones’ non-interventionist foreign policy led pro-Israel groups such as the Emergency Committee for Israel and the Republican Jewish Coalition to back Griffin.

The Emergency Committee for Israel ’s PAC spent over $300,000 on the campaign, including money on a TV ad. A J Street spokeswoman said its PAC spent just over $10,000.

Jones’ foreign policy positions stem in part from his association with libertarians; he is close to former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) who ran several presidential campaigns based on libertarian principles. On social and fiscal issues, Jones is a conservative.

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